Clematis alpina

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Robert Pavlis

Clematis alpina, by Robert Pavlis

Clematis alpina is a very hardy, early flowering vine that adds a great splash of color to your spring garden and then goes on to make interesting seed heads in late summer. As seen in the picture below, I grow it in a planter, in zone 5 and leave it outside all year. You can also plant it in the garden and just about forget about it. It doesn’t need to be pruned, and it will not take over most trees and shrubs the way some larger clematis do.

Clematis alpina in a planter, outside in zone 5 all year, by Robert Pavlis
Clematis alpina in a planter, outside in zone 5 all year, by Robert Pavlis

Its main color is a blue/mauve but a variety called C. alpine var. sibirica (Siberian clematis) is white. If these colors are not to your liking cultivars of Clematis alpina are available in a variety of other colors including pinks and pale blues.

It is a Group 1 clematis so pruning should be done after it flowers in spring. If you want a taller plant, don’t prune it for a few years. After that, prune just for shape or size. In my planter I cut it to soil level after flowering so that it never gets taller than 3 to 4 feet.

C. alpina can be grown from seed fairly easily, but it does take some time. For more information on this see Growing Clematis From Seed.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis
Clematis alpina in bud, by Robert Pavlis
Clematis alpina, buds just opening, by Robert Pavlis

This clematis is not prone to clematis wilt, but it is still a good idea to plant it a few inches lower than in the original pot.

Alpine clematis is a close relative of anemone and hepatica which have similar leaves and flowers. It belongs to the Atragene Group which also includes species such as C. chiisanensis, C. fauriei, C. koreana, C. macropetala, C. ochotensis, C. sibirica, C. turkestanica.

Clematis alpina closeup, by Robert Pavlis
Clematis alpina closeup, by Robert Pavlis

Clematis alpina

(Klem –uh-tiss  AL-pine-a)

Life Cycle: woody vine

Height: 3 m (10 ft)

Bloom Time: spring

Natural Range: European Alps

Habitat: rocky and wooded sub-alpine areas

Synonyms: Atragene alpine

Cultivation of Clematis alpina

Light: full sun to part shade (especially in warmer climates)

Soil: well drained, humusy

Water: drought tolerant once established

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 9

Propagation: seed, layering, softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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